South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

Focus Area: Wildlife and Habitat Conservation

Wildlife and Habitat Conservation Focus Area


Our work in this area seeks to protect critical wildlife habitats, advocating for land use and other decisions that will limit or mitigate man-made impacts of wildlife and their habitats.

  • Captain Sams Spit

    SCELP is currently involved with four separate challenges to permits associated with proposed development on Captain Sams Spit on Kiawah Island. These challenges include: (1) a 2,783-foot revetment and bulkhead system; (2) a community dock; (3) a 340-foot steel sheet pile wall; and (4) a 2,380-foot steel sheet pile wall.

    DHEC granted Kiawah Development Partners (“KDP”) permits in their entirety for structures (2)-(4), but limited the permit for structure (1) to 270-feet of... read more

  • Seawalls & Sea Turtles

    In the summer of 2016, beachwalkers on Isle of Palms and Harbor Island raised concerns about experimental plastic seawalls that were obstructing the beach and interfering with sea turtle nesting. SCELP promptly sent out a notice letter to federal and state agencies alerting them that these walls are a violation of the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) on behalf of the Sierra Club and the S.C. Wildlife Federation (“SCWF”). The ESA prohibits interfering with nesting and reproduction of... read more

  • Angel Oak

    The Angel Oak has long enjoyed a sizable buffer from development on all sides. While the county park where the Angel Oak stands was until recently merely two acres in size, the surrounding private property had remained as farm or woodland. However, a Charleston developer (Angel Oak Village or AOV) proposed to change things drastically.



Administrative Law Judge OKs Captain Sams Spit Development for the Third Time

Administrative Law Judge Ralph King Anderson, III, issued a Final Order and Decision on September 24, 2018, authorizing the construction of a road, steel sheetpile wall, and other infrastructure to facilitate a 50-house development on the...

We Must Preserve Coastal Carolina's Highest Sand Dunes

April 4, 2018 -- The Ingram Dunes in North Myrtle Beach are the highest relic dunes on the coast of South Carolina. They rise to 50 ft. above sea level and are covered with old growth maritime forest including live oaks and cedars. **They are...

Chronicle of the Most Recent, 7-day Trial to Save the Spit

After seven long and grueling days of presenting testimony and evidence, we concluded the trial over whether DHEC should have issued permits authorizing the construction of a steel wall, road and other infrastructure through the narrow neck of...

International Drive (Bays & Bears)

In August 2015, on behalf of the Coastal Conservation League and the SC Wildlife Federation, SCELP challenged the DHEC authorization for paving and expanding International Drive, a currently impassable dirt road in Horry County on and...

Oakridge Landfill

OCRM has issued a water quality certification and coastal zone consistency certification to Waste Management to perform work associated with the massive expansion of Oakridge Landfill located in Dorchester County. Particularly, Waste Management...

Seismic Testing

On May 1, 2015, the DHEC staff issued the first ever authorization allowing seismic testing for oil and gas reserves off South Carolina's coast. Seismic testing can have catastrophic effects on wildlife and marine resources, in addition to...

Pappa's Island

This case involves a dock permit that is unusual and especially egregious due to its location. In particular, DHEC issued a permit to construct a dock from Pappa's Island, also known as Pappy's Island, which is a previously undeveloped 104-acre...

Greenville Water Systems

Greenville Water System (GWS) owns and operates two 30-inch raw water transmission mains for the purpose of transporting raw water from the Table Rock Reservoir in the South Saluda River to the GWS treatment plant in northern Greenville County....

Seabrook Inlet Relocation

The Seabrook Island POA proposes to relocate the Inlet by blocking the present Inlet with a wall of sand and excavating a new inlet through Captain Sam’s Spit. In particular, bull dozers would build a 2,250' long x 150'-200' wide x 10' tall wall...

Cliffs Mountain Park

Cliffs Communities Inc. proposed to build a golf course community on a 5,000 acre tract in Greenville County, along the North Saluda River. The golf course was planned by Gary Player and the design calls for the piping, bridging (24 crossings by...

Jasper Station

Jasper Station, LLC, owns approximately 80.0 acres in Jasper County, of which 30.0 acres are “isolated” wetlands. Because the wetlands are deemed “isolated” by the Corps of Engineers, no Clean Water Act Section 404 permit is required. However, a...

Myrtle Trace

In 1990 when Myrtle Trace, a community located near Conway, was developed, a buffer area was set aside as a nature preserve and mitigation for wetlands filled by the developer, International Paper (IP). This land also served as a buffer area...

Risher Bridge

Jerry Risher applied for a critical area permit to construct a vehicular bridge across intertidal saltwater wetlands to access a 0.3 acre island located off Fripp Island. Under the new Access to Small Islands Regulations which became effective...

Litchfield Carolina Bay

Smith Land Company purchased a lot near Litchfield Country Club in Georgetown County. Plats for the lot show a portion of the lot as under water, and Smith Land Company obtained a wetland delineation saying that other portions of the lot were...

601 Bridge Federal Case

In 2006 the SC Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed to widen causeways and construct four new bridges for US Highway 601 within the Congaree National Park, South Carolina’s only National Park. The project would fill wetlands that are part...

Spectre

A development group, Spectre, LLC, requested a state permit and coastal zone certification to fill 31.76 acres of wetlands on a 62.93 acre tract of land in Murrells Inlet in Horry County. **The request would have converted this almost 32 acre...

601 Bridge State Case

In 2006 the SC Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed to widen causeways and construct four new bridges for US Highway 601 within the Congaree National Park, SC’s only National Park. The project would fill wetlands that are part of a...

Kiawah Island

Working with Audubon South Carolina and the S.C. Wildlife Federation, SCELP filed an appeal of a permit that would allow excavation of 150 acres of sand from the eastern end of Kiawah Island that is used by the federally endangered Piping Plover....

Carolina Bays Parkway

SCELP is local counsel working with the Southern Environmental Law Center to represent the SC Coastal Conservation League and the Waccamaw Audubon Society in a potential suit for violations under the Clean Water Act that occurred during...

Cherry Grove/Heritage Shores

In 1998, SCELP filed an appeal of permits for wetland fill, bridging, and development of a filled-in marsh area in North Myrtle Beach; our clients are two groups and a large number of individuals loosely allied as neighbors; after winning our...

DeWees Island Development

In 1991, SCELP assisted the SC Coastal Conservation League in protecting water quality and shellfish in the waters around DeWees Island in Charleston County. DeWees Island is a barrier island just north of the Isle of Palms, accessible only by...

Middleton Place Conservation Easements

We are assisting Middleton Place Foundation in negotiation of conservation easements to preserve views in the scenic Ashley River corridor.

SOS Islands - Save Our Small Islands

Where a developer obtains approval for an island residential development based on proposed access by boat, should the developer be allowed to later claim that a bridge over public trust tidelands should be permitted?

The developers of two...

DeBordieu/Clemson

We assisted DeBordieu residents in securing a conservation easement over a 162-acre tract once slated for commercial development.

DeBordieu Canal Dredging

We challenged a dredging permit that authorized the dredging of salt marsh and oyster beds in DeBordieu Colony in Georgetown County.  That case resulted in elimination of dredging salt marsh and oyster beds, and a requirement that all dredging...

Wando River

In 1997, we represented 6 groups who were sued by a bankrupt developer who was seeking to overturn part of a 1979 settlement of a suit over the original Wando River port terminal in Mt. Pleasant, Charleston County. We successfully negotiated...

League of Women Voters v. Litchfield-by-the-Sea

SCELP represented the League of Women Voters in challenging a coastal zone consistency certification. Reversing a lower court rejection, the South Carolina Supreme Court denounced the limitation on citizens’ rights to notice, hearing and judicial...

Willbrook Dredging

One of the first two cases the newly established SCELP took on in 1987. Litchfield-by-the-Sea had applied for permits to dredge two miles of canals through wetlands adjacent to the Waccamaw River, to provide river access to residential lots in...